2020 Hopeful Proposes Tax Plan That Voters In His Home State Twice Rejected

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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Democratic Washington Gov. Jay Inslee proposed putting a “fee,” or tax, on carbon dioxide emissions as part of his plan to force Americans off fossil fuels.

However, Washington voters have twice rejected ballot initiatives to tax carbon dioxide emissions. The latest carbon tax defeat came in 2018 when voters rejected a ballot measure Inslee supported. (RELATED: House Democrats Haven’t Held Their Latest Climate Change Hearing And A Scientist Is Already Debunking It)

But now, Inslee is proposing a “Climate Pollution Fee” on industries to “incentivize the transition to a clean energy economy, and establish a mechanism for polluter accountability,” according to a plan released Tuesday. Inslee is currently polling barely above 0 percent.

Democratic presidential candidate and Washington State Governor Jay Inslee speaks during the California Democratic Convention in San Francisco, California

Democratic presidential candidate and Washington State Governor Jay Inslee speaks during the California Democratic Convention in San Francisco, California, U.S. June 1, 2019. REUTERS/Stephen Lam.

Inslee’s “fee” is part of his plan to end fossil fuel use, which includes banning drilling on public lands and hydraulic fracturing operations responsible for the economic and job boom across rural America.

“It will initially be set low, increasing steadily and aggressively over time, to establish clear and predictable incentives for early action, and to generate a focused source of revenue to fund transition and address climate impacts,” reads Inlsee’s plan.

“The fee will be reexamined biannually in its price, scope of coverage, and efficacy,” the plan reads. The “fee” would “be set as far upstream as possible to provide stable and predictable incentives for clean energy production” and apply to other greenhouse gases, like methane.

It’s similar to the Inslee-backed carbon tax ballot measure that failed in November 2018. However, Inslee avoids the word “tax” when describing putting a government-mandated price on greenhouse gas emissions.

The failed ballot measure called for taxing CO2 emissions at $15 a ton in 2020. That tax rate would increase at $2 a year above the rate of inflation until Washington state met its emissions reduction goals.

Tax revenues raised would have mostly gone toward green energy projects, with smaller amounts going toward protecting forests and helping poor families offset higher energy prices. Experts estimated the tax would cost Washington residents $230 a year in energy costs.

Inslee’s “Climate Pollution Fee” differs slightly in that revenues would “provide dedicated support for frontline and low-income communities in addressing the impacts of climate disasters, and funding environmental quality protections and economic development.”

That’s more in line with the “social justice” demands of the Green New Deal, which Inslee supports. In fact, climate change plans puts forward by other Democratic presidential contenders also outline retraining programs or payments to “transition” certain communities.

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